Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aging Fast

Our dogs have birthdays in December. We knew that. Somehow though, we were a year off on their ages. We thought Olaf was turning 4 and Charlie was turning 8. Wrong. Charlie just turned 9 and Olaf will be 5 on New Year's Eve. I think we subconsciously subtracted a year because we know dog years equal like seven people years. Even more in big dogs.

In big dog years, nine is old. And in giant dog years, Bernese Mountain Dog years, five is old. This has brought out tears in the children. And lost sleep. And conversations on the cycle of life, and enjoying your time on earth, and pets in the eternities. And I've wondered for about the millionth time why we have such intense children.
Lyle asked one of the kids yesterday, after she'd tearfully plopped herself on his lap, "Well, would you rather not have dogs because they don't live long enough, or have dogs and love them while they're with you?" She's still thinking.

Do you know my kids can't listen to the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" without choking up? The day our cat died, Madeline asked me to play it on the piano. The children sobbed and Lyle yelled from the kitchen, "ENOUGH! It's a CAT!" So now forever after, "Over the Rainbow" is a song of pet death. Intense children.

We had a wonderful little dachshund who died before we got Olaf. We chose a giant breed because Lyle wanted to be sure he'd easily see the dog in the rear-view mirror. He wanted a giant breed because if the truck happened to bump it, the truck would be more damaged than the dog. Because when little short-legged Sally died, the kids were beside themselves. The funeral was very moving. The day after, Madeline left class and spent quality time with the assistant principal where she drew pictures and wrote poetry. Adam was called from his class and they shared a hug. Seriously intense children.

So I look at our aging dogs, the scraving eaters--one with a graying muzzle and the other with arthritic hips, and I pray for longevity. Please don't be going over the rainbow anytime soon.

4 comments:

Lisa Cairney said...

My very favorite part of this post was all the observations on Lyle and his reasoning and reactions. We love Lyle. :) And hey....I love the way those intense kiddos' brains work.

Jen Bay said...

Charlie's puppy picture is pretty adorable, i must say. Yes, we understand Lyle's philosophy. Dave's is even more, what shall we say, cold hearted and blunt. Although, we haven't experienced too many pet tragedies here. Even Laura's pet fish, Banana died suddenly, and while we tried to be solomn and distraught, the kids ended up in a giggle fest, and a race to the bathroom to watch him swirl around the toilet as he was forever interned. Clearly, you have raised far more sensitive and compassionate children than I have.

Sharon said...

Eileen,

Oh, loved this post. We've got two doggies....just the other day I was telling my hubby, "do you realize we are going to have a baby girl almost toddler, a 2 1/2 year old lab (teenager in dog years) and a senior citizen (not him, our Westie) under the same roof......life adjustments. Love your story telling, keep it up!

Durben Family said...

I love this post. It made me laugh like crazy....but then I thought of my Dad. (He was the strong silent type.) And when our Doberman passed..... he had him cremated and then kept his ashes in a beautiful box with his collar on top..... Dog love brings out amazing tenderness.